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What to expect during my mom's chemo treatment

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Hi All, 

Last fall my mom was diagnosed with NSCLC when they did a biopsy on a tumour in her left lower lobe.  In Dec she had a successful surgery and they removed a portion of her lower lobe.  She is recovering well.  Unfortunately they did find that the cancer spread to her lymph nodes.  Our next step is Chemo. 

Her post op diagnosis is 2A adeno carcinoma of the left lower lobe (pT2apN1).  Her chemo treatment protocol is 4 cycles of Cisplatin and Vinorelbine.  She lives alone and I plan to relocate to help her through the treatment - I live across the country.  Right now I am looking at how to manage my work schedule remotely and I may have to travel back in forth quite a bit.  I'm hoping to connect with others who have been through this chemo treatment to hear about their experiences with side effects.  I know everyone reacts differently, but would love to hear about how others managed on these drugs, I want to organize the situation so she never feels alone and is supported fully without having to give up my job. 

 

Much Gratitude, 

Katie

 

 

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Hi Katie,

Glad to hear your mom came through the surgery well.

Yes, everyone reacts differently to chemo, so this is just my experience. My husband had surgery for adenocarcinoma last May and followed up with 4 cycles of chemo, Cisplatin and Alimta, starting in June and ending late August. I read up about all the possible side effects and was ready for the worst, but his journey was extremely straight forward. He certainly did suffer from tiredness and loss of appetite/nausea, but none of the other unpleasant side effects such as tinnitus, mouth sores, numbness.

He took precautions to avoid mouth sores (what could be worse when you're already struggling to eat anything), by rinsing 2xdaily with a mouthwash of 1 quart water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda. I would recommend starting that as soon as she is on treatment, don't wait to discover that she has a problem. I've no idea if this stopped him getting mouth sores or whether he would not have got them anyway, but I'm glad we never got to find out, and rinsing as a precaution was no hardship. :)

His blood work was always good on treatment days, so he never had to alter his schedule. The staff at his infusion center were absolutely lovely and the hours flew by. I hope your mom sails through each treatment day as successfully.

He had very little reaction to the first cycle but the feeling of nausea and tiredness naturally increased with subsequent cycles. He preferred foods that were moist...for example plenty of sauces or gravy rather than chunks of food that required a lot of chewing. He was also only able to eat small quantities. A surprise to him as he's 6'3" with a very healthy appetite. I encouraged him to eat more frequently and to take in high-protein high-calorie foods in between what had been traditional mealtimes. As time progressed, we found soups and smoothies were the best way to get calories and protein into him. Liquid calories were easier to swallow, digest and keep down, especially during the last couple of cycles. There are various ranges of soups that are virtually meals in a bowl (meat, veg, etc.). I found recipes for high-protein smoothies that I made at home, but there was one at my local supermarket that he particularly enjoyed: Bolthouse Mango high-protein smoothie. My preference would have been to make all our own, but I was grateful just to be able to find something that he was happy to consume frequently.

He usually has no interest in sweet foods or desserts, but during treatment he enjoyed the Melona range of fruit ices which he said were tasty and soothing.

If your mom has to cope alone with getting meals, make sure she has plenty of prepared foods in the freezer or cans that take no effort to prepare, and high quality things that she can snack on. My husband had no desire to prepare any food himself, just the thought of standing over a stove or mixing bowl etc. made him feel queasy.

I'm sure many others will have more hints and tips, and everyone is different as to what they like and how they cope, but I hope this helps to know you're not alone.

Best of luck to you and your mom.

Onwards and Upwards,

Louise

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Hi Louise, 

Thank you so much, this really helps and I do hope my mom's treatment goes as well as your husband's did.  I'm happy to hear he is doing well.   It really helps to know what to expect and also how to prevent it - thank you for the tips.  It also helps me to know that it is best for her to have someone there with her, at least that's how it sounds. 

My mum has had a platinum based chemo treatment before and does have neuropathy from it. However we were told that because they are using Cisplatin we should expect that the treatment will be much more aggressive and we were also told that most patients aren't able to make it through all 4 cycles, so this does worry me.  Were you also told that going in Laurie?

Truly relieved to hear about your husband's story!  Thanks for sharing and I'm sending you my best wishes. 

grateful, 

Katie

 

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